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at the same time there's a difference between working because you want to work and working because you have to work. >> ed, i'm sorry to press you. heavy a happy fourth nonetheless. that's all from us tonight. "in the arena" starts right now. good evening welcome to the program i'm eliot spitzer. tonight extraordinary even unprecedented developments in the case against dominique strauss-kahn. just six weeks ago dominique strauss-kahn was head of the international monetary fund and a leading candidate for president of france. that all ended back in may when he was pulled off an air france plane at kennedy airport by new york city police. he was charged with assault of a chamber made. dominique strauss-kahn suffered the public humiliation, first a perp walk and then incarceration at ryker's island.
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today there's serious questions about his accuser and if the charges are even valid. >> at each appearance in the last six weeks we ask you and ask the world not to rush to judgment in this case and now i think you can understand why. we believed from the beginning that this case was not what it appeared to be, and we are absolutely convinced that while today is a first giant step in the right direction, the next step will lead to a complete dismissal of the charges. >> the accuser's lawyer was quick to push back. >> the victim from day one has described a violent sexual assault that dominique strauss-kahn committed against her. she has described that sexual
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assault many times to the prosecutors and to me. and she has never once changed a single thing about that account. >> our question tonight in this roller coaster of a case are we guilty of a rush to judgment of both the accused and the accuser. but first here's a look at the other stories i'm drilling on tonight. diplomatic mission or ego trip, an american congressman on his own in syria for a rare meeting with a brutal dictator. he says he's promoting peace. but is he making things worse? and what makes a superpower? i'll talk to a man who says technology and social media are the new weapons. guess who is stockpiling them. it isn't china. here's a clue. then, once the fireworks on the fourth are over the real fireworks begin. with the debt ceiling deadline
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closing in, will congress stop the bleeding or end up with a band aid solution? back to our stop story the dramatic twist in traus strauss case. joining me here now from new york, susan candiotti and jim bittermen. tell us what happened in court today. >> reporter: what a stunning turn of events in the last 24 hours. prosecutors said that in the beginning the hotel maid in this case said that after the alleged incident occurred, the sexual assault in the hotel suite, that the maid repeatedly told them and investigators that she remained in the hallway outside of the suite until she saw dominique strauss-kahn leave the suite and go into an elevator and leave and then she reported to it a supervisor. and that she stayed in that one spot. subsequently they said she admitted that that isn't exactly what happened, that instead she said that after the alleged incident, she went on to clean
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another room and then went back to clean the suite where the attack allegedly occurred and then reported the incident to her supervisor. there was another incident involving lies according to prosecutors that she lied and admitted to lying on her political asylum form from her native guinea when she came to the united states. >> this is a case that would hinge entirely on the credibility of the victim versus the testimony of dsk, dominique strauss-kahn, because the evidence, the tangible evidence, the forensic evidence makes it clear there was a sexual encounter, the only question really is going to be was it consensual and it's her word versus his. am i right that's why these challenges to her credibility is so disrupt zwroif the prosecution's ability to try the case? >> reporter: exactly. you pinpointed it. if you have a problem with an
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alleged victim in this case, if they have to acknowledge that they lied at some point then it's very difficult to try to convince a jury that well you can believe her on this point even though you can't believe her on, in other areas. and that's a problem as you well know for any prosecutor. >> all right, susan, thank you for that update. an roller coaster of a criminal case. who knows what will come next. let's go to jim in paris for the reaction from france. thanks for being with us. you just hear. you know what happened in court today. i fwaer the prevailing wisdom and view in paris is that dsk was set up? >> reporter: that has been the prevailing wisdom among a lot of socialists, his party members for some time because they couldn't believe this had actually happened. >> let me push back a little bit here. it seems there was a rush to judgment at the beginning. now maybe an unfair rush to e n
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exoneration. there are these other claims that still are out there about dsk having arguably assaulted women in the past. >> reporter: the one other charge that has been pointed to relates to a young woman here who accused him of some sexual aggressions some years ago. she never pieced charges at the time and hasn't since although she could. so, i think that at least if it looks like it's just a matter of having affairs on the side or something like that that in french political terms is acceptable and is not the kind of thing that would lead to the end of a political career. if there was aggression involved that's a different story. so if the maid's court is true in court that would finish him. here there's a lot of talk about revifling his political car.
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>> let's talk about that for a moment. let's say this is far from happening. let's say on july 18th the district attorney's office were to drop the charges in their entirety, would it then be too late for him to go back to paris, to go back to france to resuscitate his run for the presidency of the nation? >> it could be. at the moment it is because the date to put in his bid for presidency, for the application, official application for the social party candidacy has to be put in any13th of july. the 18th is after that. however there's some leading socialists today that have been talking about the idea of putting off the socialist party primary perhaps by a matter of months to give him a chance. why so many socialists are interested in having him run is before he was arrested he was the leading candidate. he was one of the only people that could beat president sarkozy and the socialists have been out of power for a long time. >> it's perverse and twisted as
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this is, if he was exxonerate ee would return to be the socialist party. >> reporter: not only a hero but a martyr because the american justice system has gotten widely criticized here and i think there would be a feeling that he was totally unjustly dealt with and that would help him in the election. >> all right, jim thanks so much for joining us. one last note. any french listeners i'll take our judicial system over theirs any day of the week. what precisely is our lead story? is it wealthy man attacks chamber maid or media rush to judgment? joining me to discuss the latest hairpin turns in this roller coaster of a case is a defense attorney and editor of large of
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the "san francisco chronicle". phil, let me start with you. do we live in such an age of immediate gratification we don't give ourselves that second or minute of careful critique so that dsk was convicted the moment he was charged and now there's a rush to exonerate on the other side the moment there's flaws in the accusing witness? >> yes is the short answer. you were in the room, amphitheater of our culture. we have cycles of these things. we do rush to judgment. >> let me put you in the hot seat. you are the media. you've run one of the most prominent newspapers in the united states, the bastion of the first amendment. how do you turn this clock back? how do you get people to pause before this rush or is technology simply not permitting us to do it? >> i think technology is creating a huge amount of pressure for us not to do it. but i also think that, you know,
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one of the ways -- one moment of restraint i think was the american press and the american press was really bashed by the french press, the american press didn't name this woman. we need to remember particularly in this day and age with everything happening so quickly and you tweet, you blog, you post, you write, that newspapers, for instance are still one medium where you can take a minute and do an analysis. people might actually read it. >> that's why you think a couple of years ago they will go bankrupt and people won't buy them any more. i hope that's not case. paul, let me turn to you. this switch from the media in terms of rush to judgment to the d.a.'s office. did the d.a.'s office either act too quickly in bringing the initial charge or alternatively are they moving back too quickly now in jumping to exonerate even though they haven't done that the moment there are flaws in the accusing witness's
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background. >> we started out talking about the media. they are interrelated questions. the media always rushes to judgment. you hope you have a public prosecutor and a system that will not do that that will kaufrlly make a decision about bringing criminal charges that are so destructive, especially charges like this. that's the criticism that will be directed towards the manhattan district attorney's office. they moved too quickly on this case without vetting the background of t backgrou background complaintant. if dominique strauss-kahn was a normal u.s. citizen living in new york they might have spent a couple of weeks investigating the background. >> phil, do you think there has been a rush to exonerate too quickly. everybody is saying the case has collapsed. none of the failures, the flaws in this victim's alleged victim's story go to the underlying truthfulness of her
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claim against dsk. how should the media deal with that? >> first of all, let's be clear that dsk himself has some flaws as were pointed out endlessly in the beginning when this complainant was being portrayed as a poor hard-working muslim woman. do his flaws make him guilty any more than her flaws make her guilty in that case. i'm not a lawyer. you guys are. let me read you a headline from a cbs ap story i pulled out. dsk's political life revived among case stunner. there's a question mark at the end of that headline. but there you have it. there's already -- i think he's probably ahead of anthony weiner in the redemption line. he'll redeem himself fast fer he's found innocent. yes there's a rush to judgment because again it's such great high drama and we just have to
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accept the fact that it's part of the media landscape. >> will it be the case that somebody who has some failures in his or her past can't be a legitimate victim, can't go to the d.a.'s office and say i was subject to a terrible crime because of those failures of the past will be so used against him or her to make it impossible for this person to be a witness. there's nothing i've seen that her case isn't true. >> prosecutors have to look and see can we win this case in front of a jury. i read the disclosure that was turned over by the manhattan d.a.'s office today. one of the things it says basically is she made up a gang rape allegation in her asylum petition. she was given a cassette which gave her a series of lies and she used them repeatedly. now you have to say in the end when this is a case about two people alone in a room, he said-she said, her credibility has been so damaged by that. i fine it so difficult to
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believe that a jury of 12 would ever convict dominique strauss-kahn. manhattan d.a.'s office will walk away from this case. they won't take the flack and try it. you'll see this case dismissed in short order. >> phil, pretend you're on a jury. i'm going to put you as a juror. if you knew the victim the alleged victim of this rape had lied about rape in the past, could you believe her beyond a reasonable doubt in this case? >> well, to be honest, eliot, i couldn't. i probably would not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt. but, you know, i think that the roles of law, obviously and journalism and the media very different, very different objectives, very different methods but they converge a little bit when you talk about a jury trial because as much as jurors are supposed to only look at the facts and judge on the facts there's an emotional component. i think the press no matter how much you grill prospective jurors the press was going on at
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that moment will have an influence in how jury's view these thing. right now it's swinging in his favor and way against her. >> real quick. >> the real tragedy of the case from the world standpoint, the whole world was looking at this case and saying what a great country america, a poor hotel maid can make an allegation against such a powerful man and in public she will get a fair trial and now a few months later the whole thing is falling apart and we look horrible. if this gets dismissed dominique strauss-kahn walks back to accolades in france and our system looks like a joke. we look horrible. >> let me play devil's advocate. i'm not sure we look terrible. maybe the system works. there's an inherent credibility. she was tested. survived initial test. when we put to it the hardiest test and it failed. then case was dismissed. maybe that's how justice should work. thanks for being with us. >> in a moment french retook
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this latest turn in the dsk case. france loves jerry lewis movies but our justice system not so much. i'll get the view from paris when i return. losing your chex mix too easily?
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but not so fast. a "new york times" correspondent in paris has written a book on role of seduction in paris. how the french play the game of life. thanks for joining us. let me get your view, bottom line if on july 18th the next court date charges against dsk are dropped, can he return to france as a conquering hero or does he return as a blemished villain? >> reporter: might be somewhere between the two, because dominique strauss-kahn has a different history now and also the socialists have moved beyond dominique strauss-kahn. there are two viable candidates for the socialist nomination for president. one of them who used to be the head of the socialist party has vowed to run as the normal candidate. even if dominique strauss-kahn were to come back as a hero, it
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doesn't necessarily mean he would have the same power on the political landscape. he would be criticized on the right by the head of the ultraright nationalist front because she's very moralistic, she's taken other politicians to task for having less than stellar personal behavior and he would be criticized on the left because the left was really shocked when dominique strauss-kahn and his wife were able to spend so much money in new york for their house, for their security, for their lawyers, and the french don't like to talk about money. >> we will get to tissue of wealth in just a moment. that's one of the fascinating observations you have made. but you've also observed that the sexual aspect of this has almost been par for the course in french politics, and so if as i think the polls showed close to 60% of the french public
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believes there was a conspiracy behind his being charged and as you have said why wouldn't he go back stronger. >> reporter: let's not mix a lot of different things into one big pot. the poll you referred to was a poll that was done the day after dominique strauss-kahn's arrest. it was a poll that was faultily done. it was declared illegal and done as people were still trying to adjust and absorb the reality that one of the most powerful men in the world who could have been president could have committed such a crime as he was about to announce his nomination. so, i disregard the importance of that poll that said early on that a majority of the french thought that he might have been the victim of a plot. as for france having different sexual morays, seduction is not
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criminality, seduction is playful, should be enjoyable. committing a violent crime against a woman which was what was alleged to have happened is appalling for any french person. and so one has to make that distinction. what is the bridge between seduction and a violent crime is the potential abuse of power which is -- which is also something that is endemic in french life. >> you make a point that's what's even more troubling is the display of wealth that dsk has put on here in new york city, the capacity to buy or rent an expensive townhouse, the flaunting of enormousle wealth. why is that so problematic. i'll tell you from this side of the atlantic there's a sense within european politics there's almost a desire to see some
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degree of nobelilty among officials. >> reporter: nobility is different. everybody knew they were people of means and of wealth. but that so much money could be spent openly shocked the french especially on the left which is his political base. >> the last time the guullotine fell, the let them eat cake has not been a good political cry. up next the battle over the debt ceiling. what if there simply is no way to reach agreement. republicans and democrats are not even talking except on this program. stay tuned. oh common. and how can you talk to me about fiber while you are eating a candy bar? you enjoy that. i am. [ male announcer ] fiber beyond recognition. fiber one.
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the tone in washington is toxic right now and negotiations to raise the debt ceiling appear to be going nowhere. could the run up to solving one
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of the gnaws's biggest problems be any worse. i'm joined by rick lazio and a correspondent for the nation magazine. let me start this here. this whole thing should have been avoided last december when congress and the president negotiated the tax cuts the white house should have included back than raise in the debt ceiling because everyone knew back this we would hit this junction. isn't this gross incompetence on the negotiating side. >> they made a mistake here. they allowed the fiction that this is something to debate over become a reality. the truth is as you know, rick, nobody wants the united states to default. unlike shutting the government down this isn't a real end game. you have to call out the hostage negotiators. >> when congress approved the spending and passed the tax cuts everybody knew these lines kwon verge at a certain point in time. this was a very predictable
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moment. why wasn't it dealt with? >> this so many different points at which you could say there was failure. no budget being reached when obama had both houses of congress. erskine bowles, he had the opportunity to give it some oxygen. the president. choose some leadership. he turned his back on his own fiscal commission. he select a budget that he later repudiates and every member of congress from both parties votes against. these were all missed opportunities where he loses credibility on dealing with this budget deficit issue and the debt issue which obviously is what we're talking about now in terms of the cap. so there's a long line of missed opportunities. >> very fair critique. let's deal with the current crisis. a bunch of cats clawing at each other. when do the grownups emerge. we had a week of clawing at each
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other. now it's time to sit down. >> i would like to see the president give a final offer and give an address to the nation. we have a lot of national speeches about terrorism, about foreign policy. but this is something that affects people's lives, affects their livelihood and the white house has to draw a line. >> if he does give that speech does he have to do a lot more than he did in the press conference. speak to entitlements. he hasn't said anything about that. i usually try to defend with him. there's a void. >> there's an absolute void. this is what the republican beef is. the republicans say, whether you like it or not at least we have a plan. we speak to the entitlement issues which everybody agrees is a large driver of the problem that we're going to have not just today but over the next ten to 20 years. it's not credible for the president not to have a position on medicare and medicaid and social security in the case of the health care program growing twice the rate of the economy. so the president is really the
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only person now who i think can bring people together and he's going to have, to in my view to do that he's going have to compromise with his own party in the senate. >> rick makes some points on policy but i have to disagree on tactics. we won't have a 40 year solution on entitlements with a gun over your head over default. you don't want to see the u.s. default. . it move on. i think rick's legitimate point is the president hasn't yet put anything on the table that's substantive and real and that's not to his credit in terms of filling the mantel of leadership. i want to put up some numbers on the screen there in terms of whose to blame. blame is a useless word. from pure politics who is to blame. bush 26. wall street 25. congress 11 obama loin 8. he's not being blamed. on the other hand other numbers, you approve or disapprove of the way he's handling the economy. 39 approve, 52 disapprove.
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rick am i right the public say we don't blame you but you're not solving it. >> that's exactly what the public is saying. we know there are a lot of things that led to the point that we are at now. but you've had your opportunities to lead and to solve some of these problems and bring people together and you failed to do that. they say you needed to bring the same level of focus and concentration to these issues as you did to health care in which case he was able to, whether he jammed it through or got it through able to get a bill done. >> guys were making progress. what's his best argument now? >> if you care about the economy, if you care about where we're headed you don't want to default so let's step back from this crazy brinksmanship and say this to the republican who raised the debt krooel over and over for their guy and you had herman kane on the other night. i spanked him with facts.
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he did didn't have facts for you facts. you said how much? he said this isn't enough but i can't tell you how much. that's not a tea party you can negotiate with and we're well past the point of rhetoric. >> one thing with ari, the idea we'll get the whole thing done, meaning we'll have a blueprint to get to a balanced budget before you have to raise the debt ceiling is not realistic. but neither is a trillion dollars when you look at a $19 trillion cumulative publicly held debt over the next ten years. >> i can say in the seconds, the ideological battle is republicans are saying we will agree to massive cuts to increase the debt ceiling. democrats are saying we'll agree to massive cuts if you agree to additional revenues. republicans and democrats are nowhere close as to whether revenue will go up. that's a line in the sand for both sides. i grabbed the last second.
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i apologize. as always thank you for being here. just ahead the congressman who has gone where few dare to go. dennis can ykucinich on his fac face meeting with the strong man of syria. tacos. ♪ feed your fiesta.
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. in syria chance for freedom has once again been met with bullets and bloodshed. protesters took to the streets calling for an end to assad's regime. congressman dennis kucinich traveled to syria and spoke to assad. he joins me from beirut. thanks for joining us. >> good to talk to you. >> you had a very rare meeting with assad, not many western diplomats or elected officials had that meeting recently. you looked into his eyes. what's your judgment. is he a brutal tyrant that kills at will or does he want to reform governance in his country? >> i can't look into his soul
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but i can tell you in the two lengthy meetings i had with him he's aware of the need to bring democratic reforms. he said he's ready to work with those that are pro democracy activists. he recognize there's some in the opposition who will not be pla indicated and want him out and he understands that time is running short. >> congressman what steps should assad take right now in your view to prove that he actually wants to reform syria? >> well, you know, he certainly has to move forward and meet with the pro democracy activists and hear from them about the measures that must be taken to move syria towards a democratic country. people are concerned that if assad is not able to deliver on his reforms, who replaces him, does it degenerate into a civil war and sectarian strife. this is a concern in libya and a
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concern in the whole region because with turkey -- yes. >> congressman, there's no question what happens in the aftermath of assad being deposed, if that were to happen is something everybody has to be concerned about. but this is a brutal dictator who over the course of his and his father's regime has murdered tens of thousands of people. you can't possibly be saying that somehow the concern of disruption after his departure should in any way excuse or permit to us support his continued rein of terror. >> no one can support a rein of terror. this regime, however faulty it has been, however closed the society has been, has accepted that democratic temperatures are sweeping the region and that it has to go with that flow and if it goes against it it's going to be out. there's no question about that. no one can excuse their conduct prior to that and i don't do that. don't put me in a position where i'm suddenly endorsing a regime
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whose human rights record has been abominal and there's violence in the streets. let's think about the people of syria and how they can see their democratic aspirations fulfilled and don't be so sure if we just see assad pushed out the door, even a violent overthrow that will bring about the very reforms of that those of us in this country and many of the western democracies want to see happen. >> congressman, where i disagree with you fundamentally is you seem to accept as a premise that this assad wants reform and yet when you say he had a meeting with the pro democracy forces he too this very moment shooting people, slaughtering them. he has tanks on the border of turkey. there isn't yet one piece of evidence you can show us to show that he's changed his behavior. and it seems to me that the same rhetoric we've heard from him, that you heard from him when you met with him is exactly what he used to try to charm the west over the years.
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he's western educated. listens to western music and then murders. none of that carries the slightest bit of water with me. i've seen con men before. >> let me respond. look, i'm talking about now. so we got to be very careful. we distinguish between was happening now and what has happened in the past. again, you know, i think you and i would agree on a lot of things. where i part company with you you just want to say let's get rid of assad without saying what comes next. you have a responsibility in your position to state exactly what comes next. are you concerned about sectarian viles or should we overlook it. should we overlook what elements might be involved there and how it would affect the region. i'm saying let's support the aspirations of the syrian people. promote the democracy movement and be very mindful of other elements which may have an anti-democratic agenda which may
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work against the united states. so america as well as all the countries in the region. that's what i'm concerned about. >> all right congressman well said. we may disagree on certain points but certainly always enjoy talk towing. wish you well. have a great fourth of july weekend. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. up next a radical makeover for american politics as we head into the holiday. is it time to ditch our political party and declare a whole new independence? a provocative case for change when we come back. yeah but now i have nothing to eat sure you do. hey! you can have the pop tart! pillsbury toaster strudel. the one kids want to eat
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don't wait-offer ends soon. visit tempurpedic.com now. gridlock in government. from the deficit to health care to education, republicans and democrats are too out of touch and too busy blasting each other to dig us out of the mess we're in. that's the premise behind declaration of independence, the new libertarian manifesto. they argue both parties are useless and the solution to our problems is to get government out of our lives.
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i spoke with nick and matt just moments ago. i've read your book. and you, in this book try to make an overwhelming argument against the status quo. but i'm not as persuaded you make an argument for pure liber tampb rimpb anism. you acknowledge we need a government that does many thing. >> first off the government is doing a pretty good job of making an argument against the status quo. it's broken at every level in every possible way. it explains the pun and title why independent voters, people refuse to affiliate with either the republican or the democratic party is either growing, definitely growing and by many polls it's the single largest bloc. we're li bench rta rimpb ans not anarchists. we're not saying let's start a moon colony or live on mars. how do we begin society.
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it's more in the situation we're in. mark said that we make history but not under circumstance of our own choosing. how do we get to be more free. how do we give people more choice. how do we get more options in how to live our lives and express our lives. that's where the libertarianism comes in. >> what interests me most about this book, the whole thing is interesting and fascinating, but what i find challenging is understand then the status quo is broken. everybody agrees with that. both those who are republicans, democrats, independents, those who support michelle bachmann or barack obama. how to you define what government should do i think is the most interesting question. how do you perceive and how do you define what we do need government to do? >> part of this is we don't actually sketch those lines out in the book. it's a great parlor game where
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do you draw the line, will you have roads or libraries or not. we're interested in talking about the world we live in and talking less about libertarianism and more talking about in the world we live in how do we devolve decision-making more into the individual, how do we be consumer led resolution every where else here. >> we do talk about three major areas where government -- i mean basically the question is where are the places that government or a one size fits all type of solution is still in play and that includes k through 12 education about 90% of students go to traditional location assigned schools despite massive increase in per pupil spending, bad results. how do you fix that. health care is a place where the government spend 50% basically of all health care spending and only going to get bigger over the next few years. what's going wrong there.
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nobody is staffed with the way health care is delivered. >> we like the product pretty well. same thing with retirement. then can you talk about things that everybody agrees are functions of government such as defense. defense spending is up about 100% over the past 12 years. there's absolutely no reason to think that we needed to, we need to be spending $800 billion or what obama would say a trillion dollars in ten years on defense to make us safe. >> let me go to a different domain. discrimination laws. should there be statutes that say it's illegal to discriminate. >> certainly from the government, yeah. you know, one of the grossest misjustices, injustices throughout american history is publicly funded institutions denied blacks or denied women or denied other minorities equal and free access. no question about it. i think when you get to private discrimination laws it's a more difficult issue. one of the things that we can talk about for now is like we don't necessarily even have to
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revisit that question it's more should we have hard quotas of where the next person hired has to look a certain way. >> quotas are not legal. but the notion of outlawing discrimination at certain institutions -- >> for my money the 1964 civil rights act which was passed four years before i was born is not as relevant today as it was in 1964. i mean i don't wake up in the morning thinking about it. in context it should have been passed that you needed to change the situation there. some people -- >> again i'm not talking about that. i'm trying to get the parameters what you think. >> where are the incidences of anti-discrimination laws and how are they enforced. this matters. in general we're not foundational thinkers. we're not trying to create the world from the ground up but it's where we live. what is the status of affirmative action and what forms does it take.
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>> give you one example. again to take l.a., a lot of cities say you have to have ex-percentage of government contract work that's taken up by minority owned-businesses. i don't think we live in a world where that's necessary any more. i could be wrong. i don't think so. you see it a way a lot of brokers set up, shadow companies. we're using government expenditures as a social engineering project and that drives up the cost of things. >> whether or not you can have this debate and i would disagree with you but whether you think it's necessary now you agree at a certain point it was necessary and aappropriate thing. >> if i can go back to 1964 i would vote yes. >> which would surprise many people. i think you're both conservative democrats. what you really are is you have core values that government can only do certain thing but got to do those things. >> in the mean time we're totally out of money at every level of government. government is in businesses. there's not a day that doesn't go by where we have a swap rate
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of somebody, a raid, a 7-year-old doesn't get a lemonade stand. we've gone too far. >> thanks for being here. >> thank you. >> up next, one of america's leading wise men. he thinks we're facing a global economic threat from the east a major power from the future. guess what. it's not who you might think. in a world where a simple sunrise can still be magic. twenty-five thousand mornings. make sure some of them are pure michigan. your trip begins at michigan.org.
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tonight on the big idea,
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these days everyone is afraid of china and its growing economic power. but what if china is actually it's own worst enemy because of fear of information technology. that's the theory of walter i so -- isaacson. as president and ceo of the aspen institute he's hosting this weekend's idea festival. everybody from supreme court justices to founders of twitter. i recently spoke with him from aspen. walter thanks so much for joining us. >> good be with you. >> you've been running this ideas forum for about seven years. have you had to look back over the entirety of it, which single idea was most intriguing and has played out in the most remarkable way. >> the big idea that's happened over the past seven years, run through everything we've done is the intersection of technology and creativity.
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usually in life the scientists and technologists are on one side and tartists, creative people on another. when you bring them together whether it's social media, education, environment or even things like middle east investment funds you can see technology transforming everything. >> so i guess one way of looking at this is scientist whose have gone from being geeks to being cool? >> yeah. i think the geeks have taken over the earth. but, you know, it's good to get out of washington a bit too. everybody is worried about the thing of the moment and to say, you know, we all should have certain values. we can solve some of these problems. >> has there been any consensus among the wise folks at your conference whether the revolutions that are sweeping north africa and the middle east could possibly have happened without the social media, sort of driving and permitting the multitude of people to talk to each other absent or in keeping out the involvement of the autocrats above them. >> there's a consensus the
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revolutions could have happened without social media. social media made it happen much faster. and really did circumvent what is at the core of every authoritarian regime which is the free flow of information. even if arab spring has setbacks and then advance, the arc of history when you allow the free flow of information happen you lessen the control of autocrats. >> you look at a government like china's, does china have any possible way of holding back this desire for freedom as effective and powerful and yo a autocratic that they might be. >> i would not bet on china having a smooth road over the next ten years. tom freeman is here and we were talking about that very issue which is in china they are still controlling the free flow of information. you look at voice of america, all of our international
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broadcasts they try to block it. a place like india even though the infrastructure is not very good they are very comfortable with a vibrant media, very comfortable with democracy. in the end, in the information age it's going to be hard. i rather bet on a country like india where every kid in bangladesh is trying to invent the internet. >> so india has a lead over china. >> absolutely. is america in decline? my answer is no. we actually are the best still and will be at creative thinking and connecting to it technology. who is inventing google, facebook, who is invengt twitter. even if it's immigrants coming in, google as an immigrant, this is a country in which we have and we celebrate the free flow of information, the free flow of ideas, creativity.
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in china, it's hard for them to be creative in the information and and that will be the comparative advantage of the united states. >> a huge important point. there was a powerful piece in "business week" where he talked about keeping the manufacturing here. manufacturing generates the innovation because if you manufacture stuff elsewhere it's on the floor of the manufacturing facility that you get the ideas about what comes next second and third generation. >> steve jobs was talking to the president about that just the point you were making. if you put an apple factory in china soon the engineers have to be over there. eventually you're doing the research and development over there. so you got have both the engineers, the capacity to do the manufacturing here if you want to innovation, the research and development to stay over here. >> absolutely right. walter isaacson thank you so much. fascinating conversation. sound creative and challenging conversation you're having

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